1854-June 1855

The Collected Letters, Volume 29


TC TO JAMES MARSHALL; 25 February 1855; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18550225-TC-JMA-01; CL 29: 268-269


Chelsea, 25 feby, 1855

Dear Marshall,

I got your Packet of Advertisements, thro' the Parcels Company, some time ago;1 and on Tuesday or Wednesday last, your Letter explanatory of these: I am endeavouring to circulate these Documents, in the likely quarters; and if I can do any good with them, I or my Wife, we shall be altogether ready. Your account of the [word illegible] is so life-like and honest, it scarcely needs a voucher; but we are here at all times to give the due testimony, necessary or superfluous, that every word of it may be depended on. For the rest, that seems to be really a likely enough establishment for young English ladies of the opulent middle class: a portion of these Papers is destined for the Manchester region, where one might hope various people would find the offer inviting.

Wilson's Letter, with the tragic tidings,2 came duly; and nothing was written in reply, for a reason you have well guessed. Alas, what can be written or said? Tears are appointed for us, tears withal, in this world,—of which there may come some blessing too in the end;—and human sorrow, without remorse, cannot well be bitterer than yours may now naturally be! All this must run its road; and there is nothing but Time that can bring any real assuagement; Time, which eats up all things, eats up the poignancy of our intolerable sorrow too,—and that is itself a very sad thought, tho' a truth and a beneficent one. God help us all; God pity us all,—for it is a frightful Universe, on some sides of it, this we at present live in. Your poor Boy will not be long away from you: it is indisputable enough we are all rapidly bound whither he is now gone; and I often look forward with longing to be reunited, in at least profound peace forevermore, and freedom from the unworthy wretchednesses of this life, with the loved ones that I had,— all joined to me, at least so. “God is Great”: I depend wholly on that fact; and will take it as God orders, not complaining with my will.— — But you must come out, my friend; you must not sit there brooding over the irremediable too long. Work, real work, I find to be the only remedy of grief; I and all men agree in that experience. Do whatever work you have, however paltry it may seem; do it, then look out for the next, which lies close in the rear of it, and fasten upon that in like humour: the way of healing lies in that direction more than in any other.

For the last year and more I have sat here, in general very solitary, not too joyful by any means, and oftenest extremely futile in my attempts at working; yet sensible always, and acting on that sense, that except in getting forward with my task there is no good possible for me in this world or in another. Ugly work too; ugliest and despicablest, not the work I would have chosen, had much choice been given me! But I do hope to get out of the “Brandenburg Sand” one day, and rejoice in green Nature again; unless I perish in the interim, which also will be a kind of honourable finish!— No more of this, I give your verses this day to Forster of The Examiner, to do his will with them.3 The Papers, a good half of them, are consigned to a well-affected Lady, whose acquaintance in the likely Quarters is much wider than ours.4 Adieu dear M; may God bless you.

T. Carlyle